Inflammation is the body's natural response to a perceived threat, like an injury or infection. Inflammation is a necessary function in such situations to help the body heal. However, when inflammation is triggered mistakenly by the immune system or if it becomes chronic, then it's a serious problem.
Chronic inflammation can actually be present in the body for years without noticeable outward symptoms. Then "suddenly" a disease manifests (cancer, heart disease, etc), which is the natural result of years of untreated chronic inflammation.
Or, some people live with noticeable chronic inflammation in terms of allergies, asthma, autoimmune disease, arthritis, etc. Yet they have no idea what's causing the inflammation or what to do about it.
So here are some causes of inflammation, which I hope will help you in assessing your own situation.
Causes of Inflammation:
- Smoking - Most people know the other unhealthy effects of smoking, but they don't realize it also causes serious inflammation in the body. Even if you don't smoke, beware of second hand smoke as well.
- Parasites - These nasty critters can cause all kinds of problems in the body, including inflammation as the immune system tries to fight them. Almost everyone has parasites, yet most people are unaware of it. (I've written posts with more info on parasites here and here.)
- Candida - With the increase in unhealthy foods consumed today, candida overgrowth has also increased. Chronic candida can cause all kinds of symptoms including severe inflammation.
- Viruses/Bacteria - When the immune system is unsuccessful in completely eliminating an infection then it remains in the body causing chronic inflammation. Some types of arthritis can actually be caused by these systemic infections. (The same is true of other chronic infections like Lyme, malaria, etc., which can be sources of inflammation.)
- Inflammatory foods - What you eat either positively or negatively affects inflammation. Foods such as trans-fats, fried foods, sugar, white flour, "junk" food, etc. increase inflammation in the body. (Some foods that help reduce inflammation are fruits, vegetables, olive oil, and certain spices. For a longer list go here.)
- Toxins - Based on my own experiences, I believe that exposure to toxins can cause inflammation in the body, especially if the body has a weak or non-funtioning detoxing system. Toxins and chemicals such as pesticides, flame retardants, formaldehyde, etc. are everywhere around us. These things are foreign to the body, as well as harmful. Thus the body often responds with inflammation to the perceived threat. Also, mycotoxins, or toxins from mold, are very damaging and can be a cause of inflammation.
- Lack of sleep - The body needs adequate sleep in order to function properly. Lack of sleep weakens the immune system, and leads to all kinds of health problems.
- Stress - Who doesn't feel stressed today? Momentary stress the body is equipped for. But chronic or ongoing stress does untold damage to health - including raising cholesterol, decreasing metabolism, raising insulin, decreasing healthy gut flora, and much more. Outside stressors are unavoidable at times, but our response to stress is vital in how the body handles it. Our thoughts and feelings really do cause physiological changes in the body - either positive or negative. Also, past stress (traumas or just stressful events) can be a cause of inflammation if they haven't been peacefully resolved in our own hearts and minds.
As you can see, a lot of things can cause inflammation, and most of us face more than one of these challenges.
I'm very careful about my health, but lately I've had a lot of painful inflammation (after several months of hardly any). We finally tracked down the source to both a parasite and candida overgrowth. So I'm addressing those root causes.
Next week I'll share some ways to reduce inflammation naturally.
P.S. Here's a 9 minute video about inflammation basics by Dr. Mercola, if you want to watch it.